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Rain & Shine: Cosmic Love

Feras Abdallah / PLA, LEED® Green Associate™

The hunter or warrior constellation of Orion is especially visible in our dark winter sky. Known for his bow, broad shoulders and belt Orion also carries something special in the sword that hangs from his waist - a vast nebula of molecular space dust, gases and atoms of elements that give birth to stars. This star nursery is home to gestating and infant stars, wrapped in blankets of gases and matter, that as they grow will give rise to whole new solar systems.

These nebula star nurseries are full of movement, stellar winds and massive turbulence, that shapes denser gases and dust into cloud-like formations. Over many thousands of years groups of clouds coalesce around each other and as they come close, the gravitational force created by their mass pulls them in until they collapse together and become combined even denser masses. The density of this matter causes the core of what will, 50,000 years later become a star. 

The density of this “proto-star” continues to increase even as its matter shrinks, condensing and compressing until fountains of excess material eject from its poles spewing new elements into space. Around it’s new axis it spins, and a large cloud or disk of dust emanates from its center. Like a spinning ice skater’s skirt this cloud twirls around the star, which again begins to gather mass as particles from its skirt fall into and combine with its ever growing body.

Over the next 1,000 years (a blink of an eye in interstellar time) elements are ejected and matter accumulated by the star until it has grown in size and density to a point where something incredible happens. Deep in its core, atoms of hydrogen merge together and transform into helium in a reaction we know as nuclear fusion. This coming together of elements to form a new atomic structure gives off a tremendous amount of energy and light erupts from the core. In a massive explosion that is held together by its own magnetic forces a star is born! It is now visible to our eye, twinkling in the sky.  Some of left over material from its skirt holds together and along with the elements of carbon, nitrogen and oxygen that the star created in its proto phase, continues to orbit the new star. These materials form together creating planets, asteroids and meteors.

A star like ours may take 50million years to mature into adulthood and it will continue to live and burn for around 10billion more!


Earth Sky

NASA Orion Nebulas

Star Formation NASA Kids

Calla Rose was born in Tucson AZ and grew up in the Rocky Mountain West. She attended Shining Mountain Waldorf school in Boulder Colorado K-12 and graduated with a degree in International Political Economy on a classical cello scholarship, from the University of Puget Sound. After spending some time in California she is happily back in Colorado and living in Paonia.